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The UK NSC recommendation on Anal Cancer screening in adults

Recommendation Systematic population screening programme not recommended
Last review completed July 2013
Next review due in 2016/17
Key downloads

Find general information about population health screening.

Why is screening not recommended by UK NSC?

A national anal cancer screening programme is not recommended because there is not enough evidence and understanding of the condition to be sure a screening programme would deliver sufficient benefit. The review found that:

  • While the number of anal cancer cases has increased it is still a rare form of cancer with only 916 new cases in England in 2010
  • There isn't a clear understanding of who is more likely to get anal cancer and how it develops
  • The test for detecting the cancer is not always reliable
  • It is not clear whether people would find the test for anal cancer acceptable (that is, some people may be unwilling to have an examination of their rectum by a doctor)
  • While so many questions remain unanswered, it is difficult to assess how a screening programme would be cost effective and beneficial

More about Anal Cancer

The anus is the opening of the bowel, and is controlled by a ring of muscle that opens and closes to control bowel movements. Cancer of the anus is rare. Less than 800 people are diagnosed with this type of cancer each year in the UK. As with most cancers the cause of anal cancer is unknown. It is slightly more common in women than men.

» Read more about anal cancer on NHS Choices


Barts and the London NHS Trust, Sexual Health Centre
The British Association for Cancer Research
British Association for Sexual Health and HIV
British Association of Surgical Oncology
Cancer Research UK
GMFA - the gay men's health charity
Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Department of Sexual Health
Rarer Cancers Forum
Royal College of Physicians
Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
Royal College of Surgeons
Society and College of Radiographers

The stakeholder groups will be involved when the recommendation is next reviewed. If you think your organisation should be added, please contact us. More information for stakeholders can be found in appendix C of the UK NSC evidence review process.

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